Fundamental Focus

How Andrew Finally Broke A 20-Year Goal

Stuck on a stubborn goal or plateau? Read how 6-months of running coaching helped Andrew break a goal – after 20 years of trying.

So Andrew, What’s Your Running Background?

I’ve been running for about 20 years off and on. I’ve been a member of a club a couple of times, but I’m not really a club runner. I’m slow really (*note from We Run: he’s not!), so it’s all about my own targets. For basically the last 20 years, the target has been to break 45 minutes for 10k. I have literally been trying to do that for decades!

That was what I came to We Run to help me with. I have been to other trainers in the past as well. I know a lot about running from having run lots of races, tried different techniques, but with help from Coach Janita I finally I managed to break the 45 minute barrier, so I was super chuffed by that!

running coaching client andrew running

“For basically the last 20 years, the target has been to break 45 minutes for 10k. I have literally been trying to do that for decades! With help from Coach Janita I finally I managed to break the 45 minute barrier, so I was super chuffed by that!”

Why Didn’t You Get On With Running Clubs?

The main reason is a very practical one – I don’t have a car, and I’d have to spend a lot of time getting backwards and forwards from where the clubs meet. There are quite a few good clubs in Sheffield, but I’m just not that interested in the social side.

Why Was The 45 Minute 10k So Elusive?

I think fundamentally, although I’m an academic and should know how to do things in a very rigorous way, I dabbled with speed training, dabbled with cross-training but didn’t really know how to do it. Coach Janita has made me change my running form, reduced the distances that I run, and I’m running more intensively over shorter distances. Basically, I didn’t approach it in the right way.

There was also maybe a bit of a mental thing with it as well. You think you can do it, but somehow you haven’t got the guts to do it – that’s what a lot of people have told me. Like you’re not ‘hard’ enough to do it.

running coaching client andrew stretching

“I think fundamentally, although I’m an academic and should know how to do things in a very rigorous way, I dabbled with speed training, dabbled with cross-training but didn’t really know how to do it. Basically, I didn’t approach it in the right way.”

Why Seek Out Running Coach?

I have used other personal trainers, and I told them the same goal, but they were general trainers. A lot of their clients just want to get reasonably fit, and don’t have a specific running goal. So they don’t actually really know anything about running – this is the problem with a lot of personal trainers.

I plateaued massively over a lot of years. I had come to the conclusion that as I got older, I probably just couldn’t actually do it. But I thought I’d give it another go, and I was fortunate to find someone that actually trains you in running technique as opposed to just doing weight training or whatever.

What Does A Typical Running Coaching Session Look Like?

We meet once a week for an hour. Coach Janita varies it a lot, but we do have consistent areas to focus on. To a large extent I’ve just gone along with what she told me to do without trying too much to understand the ins and outs of why we’re doing it. It has been a lot about trying to improve things like my balance, and the way I run. I was running in a very flat-footed way, and we worked on running in a more ‘bouncy’ way, and we talked about breathing. Coach Janita also had some good advice on prior to a race, things to do – like having a consistent warm up. It’s things that seem kind of obvious, but I wasn’t doing them!

“I have used other personal trainers, but they were general trainers. A lot of their clients just want to get reasonably fit, and don’t have a specific running goal. So they don’t actually really know anything about running – this is the problem with a lot of personal trainers.”

Was There Anything That Surprised You?

Coach Janita did come up with a week-by-week training plan leading up to my 10k race day. I was actually surprised that it didn’t ask me to do more running or speed work. I was expecting lots of interval training and agony – and there was some of that, but actually, it wasn’t as central as I thought.

I thought it was all about running really hard, doing intervals. But actually the things we’ve focused on have been different – looking at getting the fundamentals right.

I was also really surprised by the difference arm movement made to my running. I always thought your arms just sort of flap along as you run, but it’s now clear that if you get your arm movement right, it definitely gives you a more dynamic way of running.

The focus on things like posture, arms, breathing, how I move my legs – the fundamentals – rather than just flogging myself; that’s been the major lesson.

What’s Been The Key Difference That Led To Hitting Your 10k Goal?

Well you’d think after 20 years of running I’d know how to run – but, guess what? I didn’t! The difference has been exactly that; working on the fundamentals. I think this is something you can’t learn from a book or a YouTube video – it helps a lot to have someone coach you individually to assess and monitor your progress.

So What’s Next?

Well, I have to aim for a 42 minute 10k now don’t I?!

Finally, Would You Recommend Running Coaching?

Definitely. If you’ve got a goal that means something to you, it’s really satisfying to achieve it, and it’s worth investing the time and money to succeed at it.

“I thought it was all about running really hard, doing intervals. But actually the things we’ve focused on have been different – looking at getting the fundamentals right. The difference has been exactly that; working on the fundamentals.”

running fundamentals - runners in a circle

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2017-11-21T12:04:39+01:00